Full-time or Part-time?


While deciding what type of photography business you want to have, you may ask yourself the question, “Should I dive in head-first with a full-time business, or take it slow with a part-time business?”

If you are an impulsive person, you may be tempted to quit your job, buy a truckload of camera equipment and get started right away with your dream photography job.  If you are still a student, you may see $$$ and want to “go pro” right off the bat.  I strongly recommend you start out with a part-time photography business.  Here are a number of reasons why:

  • Keep your current job-   Instead of quitting your job and trying to start a full-time business from scratch, it is much safer financially to start off slowly.  If after a short time you realize a photography business is not for you, you will still have your original full-time job.    If you are a student, then schooling is your current job.  Don’t lose focus and neglect your studies.

  • Buy as you go- Start off with basic equipment, and buy additional gear as you earn additional money.  If you purchase a full studio right away, you may find yourself in debt and have to sell that equipment at a loss if your business doesn’t take off right away.  Better equipment will produce better results, but only in the hands of a photographer that knows how to use it.  Learn to properly use the camera you have now.

  • Start from home- Don’t go out and rent a studio or office. Try to utilize a home office and/or home studio if possible.

  • Getting a business started is not easy-  Nothing is as easy as it seems.  Just because you buy some photography equipment and set up a website, doesn’t mean your calendar will be booked solid overnight.  Don’t get caught up in the emotion of seeing a photographer making $xxx,xxx and thinking you’ll be there in a year.

  • It seems almost everyone has a camera these days.  In order to succeed at a full-time business, you’ll need to rise above the crowd with superior photography and marketing.

  • Build up a strong portfolio- It is important to have a good portfolio of images to promote your business.  Starting out part-time will allow you to build up a decent-size library.  Use images you’ve created learn and improve.  Be critical of your work.  Only use the best images to help promote your business.

  • Learn from your mistakes-  Nobody wants to make mistakes, but if you do make mistakes, it’s better to get them over with in a part-time business when you are just starting out.  Mistakes made in a full-time business could be devastating.

  • Hone your skills now- Study and learn all you can about your specific photography field.  Learn the market.  Know how to properly use every piece of equipment you own.  Make sure you are getting consistent results with your images in regards to exposure and quality.

  • A photography business is a business- Turning a hobby into a business can often take the fun out of the hobby.  A photography business is a lot more than snapping photos.  It involves organization, planning, marketing, phone calls, meetings, e-mails, websites, sales, taxes, record keeping, dealing with difficult people and much more.  This can be quite overwhelming.  Starting out part-time can help you ease into running a business, so you can decide if you want to do this full-time or not.

  • There is nothing wrong with having a part-time business- You can earn additional income without the pressure of having to earn a full income.  You can decide how much business you want to take on.  You can possibly have more flexibility  with your schedule since you are not depending totally on this extra income.

  • Choose appropriate pricing-  I believe you can charge full-time pricing as a part-time photographer if the quality of your photography and services merit it.  Don’t be too over-confident, but under-value your work either.  Compare your work and prices to other photographers in your area and price accordingly.

Is a full-time photography business for you? Maybe, maybe not, or maybe just not right now.  A part-time business is a great low-risk option to help you decide.  Whether you start out part-time or take a huge leap full-time- follow the law and be a legitimate business- get necessary licenses and insurance and pay those pesky taxes!

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